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Timeless Tea Talks: Caregiver Strain

Care Partner Club Forum Topic: August 2023

Read: transcript

Information provided here is for general informational purposes only, and should not be considered as professional advice always consult with a qualified healthcare provider for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Additionally, for any legal matters it is important to seek guidance from a licensed attorney reliance on the information presented in this context is at your own risk. Hello everyone and welcome to Timeless Tea Talks a part of the Old Friends Club Care Partner Club Forum. We are so glad you’re here with us today. Timeless Tea Talks are convenient 15 minute webinars for busy care partners. We know your free time is precious and we want to make sure you have more of it to do the things you enjoy. There are so many amazing and helpful resources out there. If only there were more time in the day to go through all of them and find the most helpful resource for what’s needed at that given time. That’s why we’re doing some of the legwork for you and summarizing resources to make your care partner journey a little easier. You can listen to our summaries and if you’re interested in learning more about the resource, a link to a company it. This webinar will also be available in an audio version as well as a transcript version. Please choose to engage with Timeless Tea Talks in the way that works best for you. A free chat room on our website will also accompany each webinar. We invite you to join and chat with other care partners at your convenience. And we’re so excited to have you here today! My name is Katie And my name is Katie And we are just really really looking forward to sharing some resources with you all. We are very excited to have you here with us. The topic that we have today is on Caregiver Strain and Katie and I have each picked out a couple different resources. We’re going to go through and summarize them, but before we do that we want to get into the right headspace, so Katie is going to lead us in a relaxation technique. Yes, I am. Again welcome everyone, we’re so happy to have you here with us. I’d like to start our meeting and our time together today with a quick grounding and breathing exercise. I got this inspiration from a happier mindfulness activities, so as we begin our time together today, lets set an intention for the meeting and let’s help regulate our breathing before getting started. I’m gonna give you a couple of seconds to think of an intention for today and you can either say your intention out loud orJust say it to yourself. My intention for today is to be present and I’m gonna ask you what’s yours. Keeping this in mind, let’s do a quick belly, breathing exercise of inhaling for five seconds, holding for five seconds, exhaling for five seconds, and pausing for five seconds. Thank you for joining me in this exercise. Well, Katie I have a question for you. What are you drinking today? Well Katie, I actually, I’m not drinking anything super exciting. It’s 85° outside. I love tea, but I like my tea hot. I just have some ice cold water. How about you? Well, hey, hydration’s important and I understand that. It has dips down to a crisp 82, which if you know it is not like that’s usually where I’m at so I am having refreshing golden pineapple kombucha in my little tea mug, so cheers to you! Cheers! And let’s get started with some caregiver strain resources! The first resource we’d like to share is called “Who Cares for the Caregiver”. This is a webinar done by Dr. Lamica Armstead in partnership with Mental Health America. It’s about an hour long and in the webinar she talks about caregiver statistics and creating space for self-care, joy, help, and reflection. Here are some caregiving statistics in the United States: majority of caregivers or women, many caregivers are over the age of 50 and may be facing their own health issues too, there are over 1 million people aged 18 to 20 years old who are currently caring for older adults, or as of 2020 they were, and then just a sidenote, she didn’t speak to this but I wanted to add it in: There are 53 million unpaid caregivers providing an estimated $470 billion of care each year. 70% of caregivers do not see their doctor regularly and they may find it difficult to find and practice self-care. This has a lot to do with the fact that they just don’t have the time for it. You know, they’re taking care of somebody else. One out of four caregivers report diminished family relationships as a result of caregiving, and 24% of caregivers are caring for more than one person. There was a poll done during the webinar and the participants were asked “how confident are you and asking for help as a caregiver?” 59% or somewhat comfortable asking for help only when they needed it 27% we’re not comfortable asking for help at all and 14% said they were comfortable asking for help So here are four areas of making space and space is an acronym that stands for Seeking Peace Amid Challenging Environments, so the first area is self care be intentional about your self care plan it and ask for it and know that it’s not selfish. Don’t overthink it. The next area is joy laughter is the best medicine. Find joy wherever you can there’s joy everywhere, even in the little things. The next area is help! We think we can do it all as caregivers, but I really like this idea because it’s a different take on asking for help. Don’t deny someone else a chance to be a blessing in someone’s life. Let them have their chance to be needed. And the fourth area is reflection. Pause and set aside time the more reflective you are the more effective. You can be celebrate your successes. You’re doing a great job and you are doing the best you can that’s incredible! So for the resources that I wanted to talk about today I was trying to think of something that would be beneficial for a busy care partner. Somebody who is on the go constantly, who really doesn’t have a moment to spare, who needs to find something that they could do or listen to while folding laundry, while they’re cooking, while they’re in the car- just really any moment of time and they had to themselves, so I ended up googling podcast for family caregivers and I found some really Great resources. My first resource is a podcast hosted by a primary caregiver who identifies as a sandwich caregiver, and for those of you who don’t know, a sandwich caregiver is someone who has either an older parent or an older person another taken care of and a younger person that they’re also taking care of like a child or someone. And the podcast name is Daughterhood: The Podcast for Caregivers. And I listen to the podcast and found them to be helpful. Really easy to listen to and informative. The first episode is on wills, trust, and Medicaid, oh my other! lol that’s the name of the title in case you’re wondering, and discusses the importance of consulting an elder law attorney for issues, dealing with Medicaid Medicare, and other important legal matters. The second episode was called “Hospice, don’t be afraid” and this episode talked about what hospice is and what it isn’t. The episodes kind of range in length from 30 minutes to over an hour, but they’re enjoyable to put on while driving or walking. And the reason I really enjoyed this podcast is I found it to be helpful because it mentions many resources that I ended up learning about when I was taking care of my mom and as my time as a caregiver. I love the idea of being able to listen to a resource while you’re busy doing other things and that sounds like a great one because it’s filled with so many other resources. The next resource I would like to share is a PDF that I found on about caregiver stress and burn out written by Melinda Smith. Melinda shares the common signs and symptoms of caregiver stress and burnout in this document- you may want to check them out. Sometimes it helps to identify how you’re feeling to figure out what you need. Next Melinda shows ways to cope with caregiver stress and burn out. I’m gonna go through this one at a time and you may notice some recurring themes in this webinar today. The first idea is to feel empowered, to practice acceptance, focus on what’s in your control, and celebrate the small victories. Melinda rights that feeling powerless is the number one contributor to burn out in depression. The next ideas to get the appreciation you need maybe the person you’re caring for can’t express it anymore but imagine if they were healthy again, what would they say to you? How would the express it? Don’t forget to applaud your own efforts and give yourself a pat on the back- you’re doing a great job. Ask for caregiving help. Melinda shares an idea to set up a regular check in with a family member, friend, church, member, or someone at the senior center who can check in with you once a week tp get updates and help coordinate care needs and respite with anybody involved in the persons care. Give yourself a break you need to be able to recharge your batteries. Prioritize the activities that bring you enjoyment, find ways to laugh even get out of the house for a minute. Take care of your own health. This may be easier said than done, but it will help you in the long run and make you a better caregiver. Keep on top of your doctor visits exercise, practice, a relaxation technique eat well drink water and don’t skip on your sleep. And the last ideas to join a caregiver support group. You’ll be able to share stories and hear other peoples stories. You won’t feel alone and you’ll find support in ways you may not know you needed. You know you’re right, Katie, I think it’s really important for all of us caregivers and non-caregivers to remember to give ourselves a pat on the back and this time and tell ourselves good job because we’re doing the best that we can and it’s really important. You know, speaking personally for myself to remember that because at the end of the day, we’re our biggest cheerleader, so thanks for sharing that resource. Another resource I found that I really loved and I wanted to share it is by it was on TedxSnoIsle Libraries and one of the speakers is Francis Lewis and she’s a nurse a professor a researcher and she gave such a wonderful talk about the spouse caregivers journey. She begins the talk by discussing the four ways illness jumps into the spouse caregivers world and this is based on research. So 25 to 35% of spouse caregivers become clinically depressed or anxious despite the type of illness their loved one is experiencing. Their entire assumptive role is shattered and challenged. They don’t know how to act anymore because the old ways of being a partner are not working any longer. This happens in happy marriages, it happens everywhere, and marital tension escalates. Next, she shares about three myths for caregiving, and a fact for each myth- so the first myth: feelings are easily contained in an individual and are not contagious. The fact: in a relationship with a serious illness caregivers do you have feelings that play into each other. Myth number two: all you need is a happy marriage, that will get you through the illness. Fact: you do need more than a happy marriage to get through a serious medical illness. Miss number three: the spouse miss, swallow their feelings, and forget about them selves. The fact: the evidence shows that swallowing feelings increases stress lowers natural immunity and has other negative physical consequences. The final thing that is shared in this talk is how do you step forward as a caregiver to thrive not just survive and there’s two main ideas. So the first one is to take care of yourself and we’ve talked about this quite a few times in this webinar already today, but just to sort of reinforce it again, take that time for yourself, you’re not being selfish, do what you need to do to have you time. And then the second idea is to add to your toolbox and I really love something that she said here but she said be attentive listener with a person who is living with a serious illness. Be a love sponge. If you’re fully present in somebody’s life and you’re listening to them, it’s healing. If you’re really actively listening, it is so good. It makes a person feel loved. And then the other thought is to learn and use open ended questions, so those are basically any question that you asked someone where they can’t give a yes or no answer to. So maybe they aren’t being completely forthcoming with information about how they’re feeling, but if you ask those open ended questions, then you’re able to invite the full story and to help them heal. And with that said, we have run out of time today, so that is our final resource that will be sharing! We’d like to thank you for listening and attending this webinar. We will provide a link to all of the resources mentioned in the caption on our website if you’d like to explore them further. Please join us another care partners in our online chat form for a discussion about this webinar, and we want to let you know how much we appreciate you and your time today. And I know it’s been said a few times already, but you’re doing a great job as a care partner Thank you so much and we can’t wait to see you next time. Take care!

Read: Quick Reference Guide - 4 resources Shared (.doc)

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Relaxation Technique and Breathing Exercise:

Resource #1

Webinar [59:13]: "Who Cares for the Caregiver?" - Dr. Lamica Armstead in partnership with Mental Health America

Resource #2

Podcast [Episodes range from 30 minutes - 1 hour long] Daughterhood: The Podcast for Caregivers (discovered via 10 Essential Podcasts for Caregivers)

Resource #3

Article/PDF [11 pages, ~20-25 minute read ]  "Caregiver Stress and Burnout"by Melinda Smith

Resource #4

Talk: "Caring for the Caregivers" - Ted x SnoIsle Libraries - Francis Lewis

Self-Assessment [2 pages]: Caregiver Self-Assessment Questionnaire - PBS 

Caregivers are often so concerned with caring for their relative’s needs that they lose sight of their own well-being. Please take just a moment to answer the following questions. Once you have answered the questions, turn the page to do a self-evaluation.


Podcast: Caregiver Dave 

"Your Guide to Avoiding Burnout and Surviving Grief"


Webinar [58:54]: Alzheimer’s Disease and Spouse Caregiver Support: How to Keep the Glass Half Full - Cynthia Epstein, LCSW


Video [1:01:43]: A Caregiver Self Care Plan - Comfort Keepers


Mixed media and support group: Working Daughter

"We help women balance eldercare, career, raising kids and more with tools, connections, coaching, compassion and support."


Article [10-15 minute read]: How Can a Caregiver Experience Freedom From Burnout?


Article [10-15 minute read]: “Coping with the Emotional Highs and Lows of Caregiving”

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